Thursday, April 30, 2009

As long as you can laugh at yourself, then all anyone can ever do is laugh with you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Readings and such.

It’s been a great week for readings. Last Sunday, I went to the Al Purdy celebration at Books & Company in Picton, where I met aspiring poet and active blogger Janet Jarrell ( Some of the others in attendance were Al Purdy’s wife, Eurithe, his son, Jim, and Steven Heighton: author of ‘The Shadow Boxer’. I also got to sample some more, award winning, County wines(Trumpour’s Mill Estate and Black Prince Winery) and cheeses(Black River Cheese Company and Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.). On Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to get to go to the first in Now Hear This’ reading series. The authors reading were fellow writers-in-residence: Devon Code, Desi Di Nardo, ( and Julia Tausch. All the readings were amazing. I encourage everyone to check out the writers' work and go to Now Hear This’ site ( to learn more about the writer-in-residence program. The program is beneficial to Arts & Education: students, writers and teachers. But it needs government and community support to continue, expand, and grow—hopefully into other classrooms throughout the province/country.
Wednesday, I did a reading of my own. After talking with Julia and Desi, about things that helped them connect with their students, and on my teacher’s recommendation, I shared one of my poems (Waiting) with the class. Me sharing with them seemed to make them feel more comfortable sharing with me, and each other. The class went very well.
Then back to Picton, and to Books & Company, to see Janet Jarrell, and several other poets, do an Earth Day reading from the newly published anthology: ‘Stand Up Women, Heal Mother Earth’.
Then, yesterday, I got together with Shelia Lightfoot-Pringle and gave her some tips on editing while she gave me some on photography. We braved the cold winds at Sandbanks, climbing to the tops of the dunes, and then descended into the warmth of the coffin room in the basement at Whattam Funeral Home. The photos, and the reason for them, will be revealed in a future entry.
The day ended, as all days should end, with good company, food, wine, conversation and laughter. Thank you to Shelia, Rodney and Alex, for their hospitality.
This Morning was back to town and to Miss. Lily’s CafĂ© for a County Youth Park ( fundraising meeting. The best investment for tomorrow, is in the youth of today.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Killin' Time

I found my first book Killing Time, in a drawer by the computer. It turns out that it was actually entitled Killin'Time.
I got 34/40 on it, but lost 3 marks because it was late. It was 57 pages in length, which is shorter than I remember, but pretty good at 13 years-old, I'd say. The teacher actually had some very positive comments, much better then I remember. But considering I haven't looked at it since grade eight, and was still remembering it through those eyes, well, I'll forgive myself.
I haven't read Killin' Time again, yet, to see just how valid the criticisms are but I suppose that cuts the irony with Chill down to one. Chill, btw, wasn't based on that teacher; or any one particular teacher or person. And it isn't about bad teachers, but bullies and how they come in all forms, shapes and sizes. And they can hold any position in society. They are the Pharisees and Scribes that that try to crush the creative spirit and shut up the gates of heaven to us all!:)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Congrats Shelia (friend and blog member) on finishing your first book! Good on you for getting it done. I know how much work it is.

So now that your getting ready to query here’s a copy of the letter I sent to Orca for ‘Just J’:

06 June 2005

Orca Book Publishers
Attn: Andrew Wooldridge
PO Box 5626, Station B
Victoria, BC
V8R 6S4

Dear Mr. Wooldridge

Please consider my finished Young Adult book, Jenevieve, for publication. I’ve always enjoyed first person accounts, both reading and writing, and the books that I read in my youth are the ones that were the most influential in my life, which is why I am drawn to writing teen fiction. This particular manuscript was completed with the assistance of a Toronto Arts Council grant.

From authors such as Beth Goobie and her contribution to your Orca Sounding Series, ‘Sticks and Stones’, also written in first person, I see and admire your willingness to address teen topics with stronger subject matter. Jenevieve deals with a young woman struggling to come to grips with the death of her mother. Jenevieve’s father—unable to cope with the loss of his wife—sends her away for the summer with an aunt that Jenevieve has never met, or heard about, before her mother’s funeral. Abandoned by both parents, Jenevieve finds herself in the company of an eccentric aunt and her albino friend, who take Jenevieve from urban comfort to country basics; bringing her to a decrepit house which she is expected to help renovate. Jenevieve finds escape in her sarcasm and in the sand dunes which are walking distance from the house. In the dunes, she meets Sean, a local boy who she quickly befriends as they go in the search of, Moonlight Palace, a mythical dance hall, buried in the dunes, where the sands of time have ceased to run. If you find this storyline permissible, would you review the enclosed first 29 pages (six chapters) of the 30,000 word Young Adult book?

Thanks for considering this query. My SASE is for your response only, not for the return of any materials.


Colin Frizzell
62 Glenlake Ave.
Toronto, Ontario
M6P 1C9
[This is, of course, no longer my address.]

I sent out six in total. After I was finished, ‘Just J’, I looked for and read other books written in a similar vein. I then chose the publishers that I thought would be most receptive and got the names (making sure on spelling) of which editors I should be approaching. God is in the details. They get a lot of manuscripts and are looking to weed out as much as bring in.

On that note, once you’ve done the research and had a couple weeks away from your own manuscript go back and look at it with fresh eyes. Make sure it is the best it can be. And also be sure that the formatting is correct, good quality paper, even using a laser printer if possible. Anything you can do to make it look more professional will help it stand out. It’s a tough business, but have faith. I posted some rejections letters on the blog earlier, they should help keep you going and remind you not to take any of it personally, which is easier said than done.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I love quotes (something I have to thank both Mom and Dad for) and use them often. Words feed our minds and there's a lot of junk food out there. It's good to strive for a more well-balanced diet.

"Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it." - Anne Lamott

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” - Anne Lamott quote

Friday, April 17, 2009

You gotta love Susan Boyle on Britain’s got talent. I just needed to say that.

So one of the agents (names aren’t necessary or appropriate) got back to me. The manuscript was rejected. The reason given was that it seemed to have a religious message and it was “definitely not Canadian.” He was very nice about it and recommended that I try contacting American agents.

I can’t tell you much more. The agent that I talked to didn’t actually read the manuscript his assistant did. So if you're having difficulty getting an agent to look at your work, don’t be disheartened! ‘Just J’ received a positive review from ‘The Globe and Mail’(Canada's national newspaper), made it onto an Ontario Library Association top ten list, was starred as a Best Bet by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, translated into Norwegian and Swedish, and I can’t get past the assistant. Sometimes I can't even get that far.

But there is hope.

I’m waiting to hear back from two other Canadian agencies and a publisher. And, taking the agent’s advice, I contacted two New York agencies that got back to me the next day. One passed, the other asked me to send a synopsis and the first 30 - 40 pages of the manuscript; which I did 2 hours ago.

In the meantime I keep reminding myself that Jonathon Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach, was rejected 140 times and it went onto sell millions. George Orwell was told, regarding Animal Farm, that it was impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S. Beatrix Potter was turned down so many times she went onto self-publish ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit'. Dr. Seuss got a rejection letters that said: "too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling." And "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level." was said about THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.

So my betters, have heard worse.

There’s more at:

While everybody wants to be original, nobody wants to do it first.

On the upside I found out that ‘Chill’ was sold to Hegas in Sweden. Orca Book Publishers have sold them a few from their Orca Soundings series, which ‘Chill’ is a part of.

And I should be meeting with a director sometime in the next couple of weeks, about a screenplay that I wrote. I've been trying to get it made for nearly ten years.

It’s a battle and there’s a lot of rejection. After my annulment and the events that lead up to, and surrounded it, I was terrified of more rejection, both professional and personal. I didn't know how I would handle it. But now having received it, on both fronts, I actually feel much better. I faced my fear, what I was afraid would happen, happened, and I’m still standing, God is still in his heaven, and the world is still spinning around. I still love writing and my love of words and stories (hearing them and telling them) has only deepened. Though I am, for the first time in my life, blocked. But it'll come.

I am thankful that God gave me friends, family and Guinness: to lift me up when I'm down and for me to raise when I'm up. And Susan Boyle is definitely heaven sent.

As Sir Winston Churchill said, “For myself I am optimist – does not seem to be much use being anything else.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

I was going over my students' writing today. Between the talent I saw last night and what I’m reading in my students' work today, I am both humbled and hopeful. They’ve got heart and humour. And the general vibe is more Jack Johnson then Britney Spears.
Perhaps we should hand over the reins now, or at the very least, let them explain to us how it should be done, before we get a chance to totally screw them up.

Maddy and the Grill

Last night I was at the Acoustic Grill, in Picton, with Snuff (a friend from high school who I reconnected with through facebook). The Grill was having an open mic night. The first five performers were under 16. All of them were great. The very first was a girl, Maddy; 11-years-old.
Maddy played guitar (very well) and sang. And when she sang, she didn’t sound like an 11-year-old, she sounded like one of The Be Good Tanyas: a blue grass/alt-country band out of BC. They did the song, ‘Littlest Bird’, that was on that commercial, I can’t remember which one . . . you could always youtube them if you’re curious. “The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.”
Someone was videotaping the show so Maddy might end up on youtube herself. That’d be good.
As Steve (the owner of the grill and another friend from high school) said after Maddy was done, (and I might be misquoting a bit) “I don’t know whether to be excited for her or angry at her.” That combination of admiration and envy was in us all, I think. Good and evil raging inside.:)
But admiration wins out, most of the time, and envy turns to inspiration. A gentle nudge of encouragement to spend a little more time working on our individual crafts.
Thank you to all the kids, and other performers, that took the stage last night. I needed a creative kick in the butt.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The little brown paper boat

I had a strange thought in the middle of the night; perhaps it was part of a dream.

It was about you. Yes, you. You were standing in a fast moving river wearing your Sunday best. You bent over and with both hands launched a little brown paper boat. You stood and watched it go further and further away into new waters.

Then, somehow, you were on that little boat. You looked back and longed for the familiar water you left behind. You turned around again and appeared to be both fearful and excited about the water that lay ahead.

But then you looked down and realized that the water itself, beneath the boat, never changed: the same bit of water you set yourself in, carried you along. It was only the world around you that had altered. Like time, the changing of the water was a constant and stubborn illusion. The shores you move away from become your past, the ones you approach, your future, but the water beneath you is the present moment that, despite all the distractions, you’re always in.

You saw, to your horror, that in that moment everything thing you thought you got away from had followed you. All those things you tossed overboard, hoping the current would take them away, were there.

You picked up your little boat and were back where you started—comforted by the familiar surroundings, happy to be standing still. But when you looked down you realized that the water beneath you was constantly changing, and you were now at the mercy of whoever was standing upstream.

Copyright © Colin Frizzell 2009. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I've been up to Toronto and back for another week.

The poetry class went well–I think. I used a little too much from Nick Cave’s, ‘The Secret Life of a Love Song’, lecture in the last class. Nick Cave can be a little...intense if you're not ready for him. It’s definitely more for a college and up audience. I recommend the lecture to both writers and music enthusiasts. And his accompanying shorter lecture, The Flesh Made Word.

As it turns out, even after the divorce, and annulment, a romantic was still hidden in my heart and he had the gall to show himself during the poetry class. I beat him back down but he seems to think that it’s worth the pain, and that it’s better to feel that than to feel nothing at all . . . masochist.

I sent out the query letters Thursday morning and received a response from one of the agents in the afternoon. I sent him the manuscript and will call him Monday.

If you’re looking for an agent I discovered this site: You enter in your geographical area, and the type of writing you do, and it seeks out agents for you. The one that got back to me came up on that site and I'd met him years ago at a Media Bistro event in Toronto. I didn’t really have anything to present him then, but we talked for a while about the industry. He was a very nice guy.

Now it’s now down to patience, perseverance, prayers and preparation for the next round: more writing, research and study.

If I cross my fingers any tighter they might snap right off.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Okay, so I did up rough drafts of query letters in preparation of my quest for a new agent and publisher. I wasn’t sure if I wanted another agent or to try approaching publishers directly so I’ve decided to do both and see what happens. I’ve got manuscripts that have been written and rewritten several times and are ready to submit; I just need to find one that wants me and is a mutual good fit.

For any aspiring authors reading this, who are getting ready to send out your own writing, you should always be sure that the publisher you’re approaching publish the type of writing you’re sending them. Don’t just shoot it out willy-nilly. And the query letter is important, that’s why I did the roughs up today and will look them over again when I get back from TO.

In the future I’ll most likely be getting into the trials and tribulations that I went through (and am going trough) in regards to writing/publishing. And maybe even a little more personal stuff, too. Writing, as one author put it, is going into a room, getting as naked as you can, and then coming out and saying, “So, what do you think?” And while we all need our dark little corners to hide in, I can’t very well encourage my students to come out of theirs if I remain tucked tightly in mine.

But right now, I’ve got to look over my lesson plan for my class on poetry and lyrics tomorrow. I’ll be reading sections of Nick Cave’s The Secret Life of the Love Song, which is sure to knock holes in, if not completely destroy, any image of happy-ever-after that Disney ever put into their heads. I figure the more I lower their expectations, the longer their relationships are going to last.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Student's inspire

There was a line in the film Shadowlands (based on a period in the life of C.S. Lewis, with Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis):
“We read to know we’re not alone.”

I think that’s what good stories are all about. Whether it being a character, storyline, situation, sentiment, humour, idea or emotional state that you relate to, it makes you feel less alone when you connect to something outside of yourself, and let it touch, or spark, something inside of you.

A few of my students have had the courage to write on a very emotional and personal level, and in the shark tank of high school that takes some guts. They inspire me.
It was a bit of a tumbleweed night at the restaurant. I was done by 9:30, and home by 10:00.

I did some more ironing and thought of the days when a clean shirt meant no noticeable stains and doing laundry consisted of throwing a shirt into the dryer with a fresh sheet of bounce (and that was only if I was looking to impress).

Ahhh, the good old days.

Anyway, I can’t imagine this being at all interesting to read, and I’m sorry. It’s only been a few days and I’m just stumbling around in the dark; hoping I don’t step in anything squishy or run into something hard.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yesterday was writing in the morning; helping Mom out at Home Hardware’s grand opening in the afternoon. She bought new flooring for me to later install—yes, I do renovations, too. I don’t know if I do them well; but I do, do them. Any creative outlet. I also like the ripping and tearing; or burning things when I work in the yard—it helps to sooth the savage beast within.

Last night, I worked at Angelo’s restaurant.

This morning, writing again. Then I ironed some of my “new” shirts while watching the British version of Wife Swap. I’d never seen it before; but the wives being swapped were a model and a country girl, hence, it appealed to both body and soul.

After that it was off to Mass for contemplation and reflection. It’s the most peaceful hour of my week and it helps me regenerate.

Then back to Home Hardware, to help Mom get some latex paint, which I’ll later lather over the 70’s panelling that has served us so well—parting is such sweet sorrow.

Special thanks to Cole—who has been helping me with renovations since we were 12 years-old and fixed-up The Old Bus.

Now I’m back at Miss Lily’s for more writing, researching, blogging and coffee drinking before I head to the restaurant for serving.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Shopping and the 3 R's

Okay so between the 6:30 am – 12:30 am day yesterday (including the 3 hour drive from T.O. to The County) and the less then three hours sleep (much less considering how many times my cat, Zsu Zsu, whacked me on the nose demanding me to wake up and give her the attention she had missed when I was away) and the on the road by 7:30 am start time this morning, I’m kind-of-glad I don’t have to be at the restaurant tonight.
I did, however, find the time and energy to do some spur of the moment shopping in the middle-of-the-day (over an extended lunch break). I got myself a whole new wardrobe — inside of two hours, no less. Now, I’m not really a clothes kind-of-guy. To me, clothes are just the things I put on so I don’t get arrested when I go out in public. But today, I went all out: two pair of jeans, spring/fall jacket (with a guy displaying various cheeses on front, and the name Jean on the sleeve), a trench coat with removable liner (so I can flash people in the summer and winter), black puffy vest thing with hide-a-way rain hood; dress shirts: Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Van Heusen, Dockers ect., and a few sweaters from various designers. Now how, you ask, could a Canadian writer afford such an extravagant shopping spree? Well, I’ll tell you: the Hospital Auxiliary Shop. Stuffed it all into one garbage bag; got the lot for 8 bucks. Reduces the waste going to landfills, and the money goes to a good cause. Just like Jack Johnson says on the Curious George soundtrack: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
And I gained a whole new respect for people who go on daylong shopping sprees for clothes. Those two hours just about killed me. The first say half-hour to an hour was kind-of-fun, after that . . . not so much.

Another day in the life.

Yesterday I was out of the garage by 6:30 a.m. I returned to the coffee shop for the net. The Media Bistro( event, the night before, went well. I attended it with Miranda, who I meet in the coffee shop. She lent me some of her internet time when mine ran out. Miranda is a web designer, new to Toronto (originally from Calgary). She wanted to meet people working in media; I told her about the event, she signed up on-line, and I gave her a lift down.

At Table 17 I met some new writers and PR people. I was hoping there would be some agents attending it but alas, no. I did, however, meet some very nice people and this morning I sent some follow-up emails to the addresses on the collection of business cards in my pocket.

After the breakdown of my marriage, and actually for some time before that (I dropped over 25 lbs in the last year of it, leaving me at a rather stealth 6 feet tall and 140lbs) my confidence had been well shaken. At the event I felt it was starting to come back again, which is very important when you’re trying to make a living in a profession that is filled with constant rejection. Mind you, I turned out 2000 words a day when I wrote Chill and it took me most of the yesterday, and some of today, to do this blog entry. It’s a slow recovery.

Anyway, after researching, writing, and emailing in the coffee shop I went to Butler’s Pantry for a late lunch. Then I stopped in at the Classical Music Conservatory,, to see if Lusiana Lukman,, was about. Lusiana made me a professional writer when she optioned my film script, Lavender, a few years back. You can see the synopsis for it at The option ran out but our determination to get it made hasn’t. Her Mom is having a quadruple bypass done and I wanted to see how she was doing. Lusiana wasn’t in so, as requested, I’m sending my support in prayers and friendship.

Then I ran by Little Italy to pick up some Easter treats for my mom. Then down to the St. Lawrence Market’s Feast of Authors to offer my support to friend and fellow YA Author Matt Beam, Matt and I played catch-up and talked about writing, teaching, current and future projects, even something that we might be doing together—I’ll keep you posted. I also stopped by the St. Lawrence Centre to say hello to all my old co-workers there. What a great bunch—must drink with them soon.

Afterward I grabbed a late dinner at the St. Lawrence Market’s customer application night. My dinner consisted of free samples from all the different booths. I love free food. Anyone working in the arts in Canada depends on it. On my way out the door I ran into another old friend, Andrew Carlton, who I used to see a lot when I was with my un-wife. It was great seeing him again. We played a little catch-up, talked a little politics and then said our see-you-laters.

I was back in the car by 9:30 p.m., which got me home,in The County, by just after midnight.

I was up by 7am to come into Miss Lily’s for a County Youth Park meeting Which apparently was postponed. Note to self: check email before coming to town. Ah well, I’ve got lots of writing and research to get done and I need the High Speed to do it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A day in the life

Up at 6:00 am, in Toronto, at a friend’s place. Had to be out of the garage before 7:00 to save $7. A tight budget: one of the joys of being a Canadian writer. Breakfast at United Bakery (it’s cheaper than the parking, and more nutritious). Arrived at James Cardinal McGuigan by 8:00. I said good morning to my teacher, Laryssa Chmil, and then went to the classroom to set up.
Lesson today: perspective. I ask the students to recall a time when someone did something that hurt, upset, angered or disappointed them. Then I have them write about it, in first person, with as much emotion and in as much detail as possible—this builds on the imagery lesson from the previous week.
Do to the emotional nature of the exercise; I give them as long as they need to complete it. Once finished, I have them write about the exact same incident again, in first person, from the other person’s point of view.
Some initial responses include, “There is no other point of view!” and “I refuse to, I absolutely refuse to.”
In my first year as writer-in-residence one of my students, Dania Thompson, had her piece from this class, King Gilbert, published in Descant’s Student Anthology: The Armadillo. I recommend it to teachers everywhere.
Congratulations again, Dee.
Now, I’m at a coffee shop for the wireless, learning how to do a Blog and hoping it’s not overly boring. Which, my life must certainly appear to be from the outside looking in. But on the inside there are the most wondrous things going on.:)
Anyway, I just finished my espresso, after, I think, four or five other cups of coffee that I’ve had today. Now I have to go and get ready for a Media Bistro event at Table 17, which starts around 6:30.

I’m sure the entries will get better as I go along. Please be patient, loving and kind.